Saturday, July 8, 2017

"From Unitarian Utopianism to Catholic Constitutionalism"

A new anothology allows us to follow the evolution of one of our country's greatest minds — Orestes Brownson's Republican Remedies. An excerpt:
    Orestes Brownson (1803-1876) spent 50 years thinking through the tensions between the American experiment and modernity. His voluminous writings display a critical mind, a man of principle willing to question his own principles.... Brownson ended up defending the American constitutional order; republican government; and individual liberty, particularly with respect to religion. His belief that the Declaration of Independence launched a quest that never could or should be completed gave way to doubts that man could ever thrive amidst such an unending democratic revolution. As a young man, he was a devotee of human emancipation and held, with a fanatic's reformist zeal, religious views akin to today’s liberation theology—perfectible humans build heaven on earth. Had Brownson not changed his mind, he would have been a precursor to 20th-century progressivism. Instead, he is a corrective to it, and the emancipationist aspirations of our age.

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